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CAS: China begins tracking debris from the US-Russian satellite collision
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13:32, February 13, 2009

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The Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) monitoring network operated by the Purple Mountain Observatory (PMO) has begun tracking the debris created in the US-Russian satellite collision, Zhao Changyin, a researcher at the PMO, announced on February 12.

Zhao said the collision of the satellites occurred above northern Siberia, Russia. Since it happened outside the observational airspace of existing Chinese observation stations, they could not monitor the situation at the time of the event. However, the CAS monitoring network has later begun tracking the debris from the collision, and will closely follow the impact of debris on in-use Chinese satellites.

Zhao explained that this collision is estimated to create large swarms of treacherous debris, which will disperse within a rather wide area, mainly around the altitude at which the collision occurred. Therefore, the collision will not only pose a threat to other satellites that move at that altitude, but will also have an impact on satellites at other altitudes. However, the probability of another similar collision is quite slim.

Zhao added that similar collisions have occurred in the past. On July 24, 1996, the French electronic reconnaissance satellite Cerise slammed into the remains of the final-stage Ariane V16 rocket. On January 17, 2005, the fragments of a Chinese Long March-4 rocket collided with the remains of a final-stage US rocket.

By People's Daily Online

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